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Into every life a little seepage must…seep.

April 10, 2010

Insurance is a beautiful thing, unless of course, you need it.

A couple of weeks ago, in a period of about 24 hours, it rained for 40 days and 40 nights. By my count, our third 100 year deluge since 2007. The downside , obviously, is the spawning fish that now live in the family room and garage. The upside is that we should be flood-free for about 300 years.

Our damage this time was very soft core – PG13, which amounted to only about 1/2 inch of water. Nothing like 2007. In those more manly floods we lost the carpets, shelves, sheet rock, a house guest, a lava lamp, a ton of CDs, and some furniture. One neighbor practically paddled her upright piano from her family room into the street, and another couple literally canoed to their kitchen window.

But even a 1/2 inch of water in an area where it generally shouldn’t be (your home, the front of a good suit you are wearing prior to speaking in front of a large crowd, cockpit of the flight deck of your transatlantic flight) can wreak a lot of havoc. In our case, book shelves, CD’s and files left on the floor, and sheet rock, which works to ease flood damage by sucking the water off the floor and pulling it about 12 inches up the wall, forming the ideal home for a variety of life threatening molds and mildew. Close your eyes and take a deep breath downstairs, and you can imagine yourself laying face down in a mountain of recently worn athletic socks.

But thank God for insurance companies, who have learned so much since those floods of 2007. In calling in our claim, I was thrilled not just to reach a live person, but one that seemed to genuinely care about our unfortunate loss of water tight integrity.  She asked me where the water came from.

My first answer was, “God, ” to which she didn’t respond. She may, in fairness, have confused my answer for an exclamation. So, I followed that up with a less ethereal explanation, “the clouds and rain.” I then added the detail that it had rained relentlessly for 24 hours, raising the natural water table about 12 inches higher than our basement. Our sump pump couldn’t keep up.

“But where did the water enter from?” I responded, “the outside.” What she was getting at, very politely, was the route it took, which was the seams of the windows, the concrete walls and up from the concrete floor.  Those answers earned me a big and enthusiastic “aha!”

That is seepage. And shocker of shockers, we aren’t covered for seepage.Imagine that.

I asked when seepage crossed the line to become flooding, and there seems to be no watertight delineation for that. I begged the question, of course, suggesting that flooding always involves seepage, with varying degrees of severity – up from the basement floor vs. down from the kitchen windows. But every scenario I came up with got labeled “seepage,” like the effect our quarterly insurance premiums have on our saving account.

The only thing she had for me was if water had come in from the sump pump. That would be flooding. Or, if the washing machine hose burst. So water from the inside that is unable to seep to the outside is something that’s covered. She asked if our freezer in the basement was damaged. I explained we didn’t have a freezer in the basement, but did have a refrigerator.

She was very apologetic in informing me that the refrigerator wasn’t covered.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. April 13, 2010 11:06 am

    I’m looking forward to reading more.

  2. Krissy permalink
    April 13, 2010 5:58 pm

    When you referenced “God” being the cause, that initial silence on the insurance agent’s end of the phone was likely a smile. You quoted the most notable policy exclusion, and frustratingly one of the most likely causes of a household flood. Sadly, the remaining description was also likely an insurance company’s dream. Those companies pay people a pretty penny to draft language specifically excluding the type of thing you reported as the cause. If you want to send me a copy of your policy, I will read it. I previously dabbled in this area and have gotten coverage for clients and friends. It likely is not covered, but I would be happy to look at it for you. Krissy

    p.s. I agree with Reggie, keep writing!! I personally would like more triathlon training stories. Left me in stitches, thereby allowing me to forgo my own abdominal exercises for the week.

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